US PGA betting guide
Check out Dave Tindall's preview and best bets for the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill in New York.
By Dave Tindall Twitter: @DaveTindallgolf
Last Updated: 07/08/13 2:34pm
The final three majors of the year seem to flash by and, all of a sudden, it's the last of them - the US PGA at Oak Hill.
Referred to as anything from "Glory's Last Shot" to the more disparaging "Ringo of the four majors", the bottom line is that this is still one of the four biggest prizes in the men's game and everyone is desperate to get their hands on the comically oversized Wanamaker trophy.
Oak Hill - situated in Rochester, New York - has staged plenty of huge events in the past, including the 1995 Ryder Cup which saw Europe score only their second victory on U.S. soil.
Of the five majors played there have, two have been won by greats - Lee Trevino (1968 US Open) and Jack Nicklaus (1980 USPGA) - while two others were won by players who were already major winners. Curtis Strange landed the second of his back-to-back US Opens at Oak Hill while Cary Middlecoff was already a Masters and US Open champion before winning the latter again in 1956.
The odd man out, in lots of ways, is Shaun Micheel.
Micheel, ranked 169th in the world at the time, did it in style when he won the US PGA here in 2003, closing out victory with a tap-in birdie after putting his 175-yard approach to inches of the hole.
It remains his only ever victory on the PGA Tour.
Micheel's victory is also the only one to buck a very strong trend.
Thirteen of the last 14 US PGA winners had already posted a victory on the European or PGA tour earlier that season so this tournament is dominated by players boosted by a recent success.
Given its 93% strike-rate, that system will be the bedrock of our staking plan - more of which later.
Here's the leading contenders and also whether they have a win to their name this season and Sky Bet's odds.
Tiger Woods (9/2 - Price Boost): Tiger's odds crashed when, thanks to a stunning second round 61, he ran away with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by seven shots on Sunday. Many now see nothing else than a Tiger win here but it's dangerous to make that presumption. Tiger, as he proved at Firestone, is now an absolute master at winning at venues where he's won numerous times before but, outside of that comfort zone, his powers are much reduced. Indeed only twice in the last five years has he won at a course where he hadn't previously tasted success at least three times. Add in the extra pressure of trying to win a major for the first time since 2008 - which seems to manifest itself in flat performances on major Sundays - and there are doubts over Tiger at a venue where he only managed 39th in 2003.
Won this season? YES (five times!)
Phil Mickelson (17/1 - Price Boost): Mickelson was absolutely fantastic when storming through to win the Open Championship at Muirfield and that made it two wins on the trot after his victory in the previous Sunday's Scottish Open. But after that incredible high and its hectic aftermath, it's fair to expect a bit of a comedown for the now five-time major winner. We saw that at Firestone when he plodded along to finish tied 21st and here at Oak Hill, where he'll need to rely on his driver a lot more (he didn't even use one at Muirfield), the weakness of his game is likely to be exposed. Mickelson was tied 23rd here 10 years ago despite taking the first round lead with a 66.
Won this season? YES (three times)
Adam Scott (18/1): After a wretched record at this level for one so talented, the Australian is now a master at peaking for the majors. In the last three seasons he can boast a win (this year at Augusta), two seconds, a third and a couple more top 15s. When he came tied 23rd here in 2003 it was actually his joint second best finish in a major at the time so there could be a hint of the course suiting him. Two majors in a season is a big ask but Scott has become so reliable at this level that it's hard to see him not contending.
Won this season? YES
Henrik Stenson (25/1): If you've not followed golf for a couple of months, it may come as a surprise to see the Swede as fourth favourite and shorter than the likes of McIlroy, Westwood and Donald. However, Stenson is one of the hottest players in the game with his last three starts producing a third place in the Scottish, a runners-up finish in The Open at Muirfield and another second place in last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He's also made the top six (fourth 2008, sixth 2009) in two of his last three starts in this event so it's obvious why the bookies are taking such evasive action.
Won this season? NO
Justin Rose (28/1): Rose admitted he was somewhat under-prepared for The Open at Muirfield following all the hullabaloo that followed his superb US Open victory at Merion. However, last year he missed the Open cut and finished third in the US PGA at Kiawah Island so there's good reason to think he can flourish again this week - especially with the added confidence that comes with being a major winner. His long, straight hitting should be a good, fit for the course and he played some nice golf (three 69s in his four rounds) when tied 17th at Firestone last week.
Won this season? YES
Brandt Snedeker (28/1): After capturing the 2012 FedEx Cup, Snedeker has kicked on again this year and two more wins (Pebble Beach in February and the recent RBC Canadian Open) have elevated him to the very upper echelons of the game. That progress has also shown itself in the majors. Snedeker was the halfway leader in last year's Open at Lytham before finishing third while he had a great chance to win this year's Masters but dropped to sixth after a lacklustre final round. Overall, he's made the top 20 in seven of his last 11 starts in majors (6-17-11 this year) and he very much fits the profile of 'major winning waiting to happen'.
Won this season? YES
Rory McIlroy (30/1): McIlroy continues to give off signs that he's in a state of flux, oscillating from "feeling lost" one week to "seeing lots of good signs" the next. The bottom line is to look at his results and, quite simply, they're very poor, the last six reading 27-MC-MC-41-57-MC. Rory is the defending champion here following his wonderful eight-shot win at Kiawah Island and, as you'd expect, he was gushing with praise for Oak Hill when he did the official media day there a few months ago. History could make his price look monstrous should he win but, to be honest, all the evidence we have suggests he's more likely to miss the cut.
Won this season? NO
Lee Westwood (33/1): Westwood almost appeared too phlegmatic when missing out on his latest opportunity to finally win a first major by shooting a closing 75 and finishing third in The Open at Muirfield. However, that was his eighth top three in a major since 2008 so, as an each-way proposition, he remains extremely appealing - especially at a price like this. Westwood played poorly either side of Muirfield but in the majors this year he's finished 8th (Masters), 15th (US Open) and 3rd (Open) so it's pretty clear where his focus lies.
Won this season? NO
Luke Donald (33/1): Missed cuts in The Open and the Canadian Open suggested Luke's season was really getting away from him after the disappointment of the US Open when he got in the thick of contention before sliding down to eighth. But a ninth at Firestone last week was more encouraging and his putting looked much sharper. A tied 23rd in the 2003 US PGA here was one of his better early efforts in the majors so he likes Oak Hill and, just maybe, after watching playing partner Justin Rose get the job in the US Open, Luke can follow suit.
Won this season? NO
Best of the rest
As stated in the intro, 13 of the last 14 US PGA winners had already won earlier that season. So, anyone with a 2013 Tour success deservedly qualifies for this category. The list is as follows:
Charl Schwartzel, Jamie Donaldson, Chris Wood, Stephen Gallacher, Richard Sterne, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Marcel Siem, Brett Rumford, Graeme McDowell, Peter Uihlein, Matteo Manassero, Mikko Ilonen, Joost Luiten, Ernie Els, Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Brian Gay, John Merrick, Matt Kuchar, Michael Thompson, Scott Brown, Kevin Streelman, D.A. Points, Martin Laird, Billy Horschel, Derek Ernst, Sang-Moon Bae, Boo Weekley, Harris English, Ken Duke, Bill Haas, Jonas Blixt, Jordan Spieth, Woody Austin, Gary Woodland.
As well as 13 of the last 14 winners having won that season, there is another good filtering stat.... nine of the last 10 had placed inside the top 22 on their last start.
That whittles down the list to Schwartzel, Donaldson, Wood, Sterne, Mickelson, Woods, Merrick, Thompson, Scott, English, Rose, Haas and Woodland.
Being ruthless let's chop it again.
Eighteen of the last 20 majors have been won by different players so, in this age of parity, let's get rid of anyone who has won a major since Trevor Immelman's 2008 Masters win.
That leaves us with Donaldson, Wood, Sterne, Merrick, Thompson, English, Haas and Woodland.
Now for some help from Ernie Els to cut our shortlist again.
"It is truly a wonderful layout and one where you have to hit every shot and every club in the bag. You have to drive it solid, hit great iron shots, putt well and think smart. It's the complete test."
Therefore, let's check the All-Around stat which measures everything.
The standouts here are Haas and English who both rank in the top 15.
Sterne hasn't played enough on the PGA Tour to have a ranking but, looking at individual performances, his All-Around rankings in his last five starts read 6-22-48-1-4.
Wood was second on the All-Around when seventh at Bridgestone so clearly he's doing a lot of things right too while Merrick was sixth in A-A in Canada two weeks ago.
So, there we have it. A final shortlist of players who have won this season, are in good nick and have no weaknesses in their game right now.
Here they are with a few more words of why they might flourish....
Bill Haas. As well as his own credentials, it's interesting to note that his dad, Jay, won the 2008 Senior PGA Championship here. Hopefully Jay is passing on some good advice as well as good genes. Bill also has the third best US PGA scoring average (71.60) over the last five years. Form figures: 7-MC-9-1.
Harris English. A winner as recently as June, English continues to impress and has no hang-ups or previous major disappointments. Can approach this week with no pressure on him and has the class to flourish. Top 15 in each of his last three starts.
Richard Sterne. Winner in Joburg this year, impressive runner-up on tough French Open track and ninth at Bridgestone last week. South Africans are very good at winning majors!
Jamie Donaldson. As well as passing the stats tests, he was also an eye-catching seventh in last year's US PGA so he can do it at this level.
Chris Wood. Proved himself as a class act with back-to-back top fives in The Open and will have taken huge confidence from last week's USPGA when he finished seventh and held his own when paired with Tiger.
John Merrick. 19th at Bridgestone last week and also sixth in Canada the week before. He's also surprisingly good at majors and can boast a sixth at Augusta, a sixth in the US Open and a 10th in this event in 2009.
If I could place one bet without adhering to the stats checks, I'd probably go with Ian Poulter. He was a fast-finishing third in both last year's US PGA and last month's Open. His record in the majors, when the adrenalin gets pumping, really is impressive and 55/1 seems very fair.
2pts e.w. Bill Haas at 55/1
1pt e.w. Harris English at 100/1
1pt e.w. Richard Sterne at 125/1
0.5pts e.w. Jamie Donaldson at 200/1
0.5pts e.w. Chris Wood at 200/1
0.5pts e.w. John Merrick at 200/1
Each-way terms are ¼ the odds 1,2,3,4,5,6